Simply Baseball Notebook: Cover Stories

Q&A with Rob Neyer

December 2002/January 2003

Q&A with ESPN.com's ROB NEYER


Rob Neyer, of ESPN.com, is one of the most respected baseball writers in the country.  He took some time out talk a little baseball with us.


sbn: Give us a little background about yourself - where you went to school, other writing jobs, hobbies/interests, and anything else you find interesting/important.

RN: I went to school at the University of Kansas, failed miserably, spent nine months roofing (and occasionally un-roofing) houses, and then I somehow got a job working for baseball writer Bill James. That lasted four years, after which I tried to making a living as a freelance writer, failed miserably, and then I got a job working for STATS, Inc. After working too hard and getting paid too little for about two-and-a-half years, I leveraged a friendship into a job with ESPNet SportsZone, which eventually became ESPN.com. That was nearly eight years ago, and here I still am.

sbn: Which teams stand to gain or lose the most in the free agent market?

RN: Hard to say before anything's happened. But the Phillies will apparently be very active and might add two future Hall of Famers (Jim Thome and Tom Glavine), while the Braves might lose two (Glavine and Greg Maddux).

sbn: Barry Bonds recently won his 5th MVP award as his statistics continue to defy logic - where do you rank him among the games' all time greats?

RN: Bonds has to rank among the five or six greatest players ever. There's Ruth, and there's Wagner, and there's Mantle, and there's Johnson, and there's ... well, "Bonds" might be the next name on the list. Well, looking at my list, I see that of course I left off Mays. But I think that Bonds does belong in that group.

sbn: The situation in Montreal remains unsolved, it seems like just about every other day a new, wacky proposal is mentioned - what do you think is most  likely to happen?  What would be the best solution?

RN: Most likely to happen? The Expos will spend another season in Montreal, but play half a dozen, or a dozen, "home games" in other cities, San Juan and perhaps Portland. And then, God willing, they'll finally move to Washington (or Oregon). But I won't be at all surprised if they're still in Montreal when 2004 rolls around, because MLB is just that screwed up.

sbn: The Yankees lost in the ALDS - George Steinbrenner isn't happy - what do you  expect him to do in the offseason?

RN: I don't know about "Steinbrenner" -- the manager and the general manager are still there, so this isn't the old Steinbrenner -- but I suspect Steinbrenner's people will be very busy. I suspect the Yankees will have different players in left field and right field next Opening Day, and probably a couple of new starting pitchers, too.

sbn: The Minnesota Twins were the most surprising team of 2002 - what do they  need to do to take it to the next level in 2003?
RN: Ummm ... luck? I doubt if we'll see any real changes to the roster, so if they're going to do more, they'll simply have to play better in October than they did this year.

sbn: The Anaheim Angels are world champions - can they repeat?

RN: In a word? No way in hell. (I hope four words is okay.)

sbn: What are the teams/players you feel may surprise in 2003?

RN: I haven't done any of the work necessary for me to answer that question in any detail. I do think the White Sox, Phillies, and Red Sox are going to play better than people think in 2003.

sbn: Do you feel the new collective bargaining agreement will really help the small market teams?

RN: Nah. It may slow down the acceleration of the differences between rich and poor, but there's not been a fundamental change, and it would have taken a fundamental change to *really* help the small-market teams.

sbn: What advice do you have for young, aspiring sports writers?

RN: Read a lot, publish wherever and whenever you can, and meet as many people as you possibly can.


Rob Neyer's home page @ ESPN.com


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